8 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Little Rock
Little Rock lies in the heart of the state, separated from its sister city of North Little Rock by the Arkansas River. The town, founded in 1812, took its name from the French "petite roche" and became the capital of the state in 1821. The Quapaw Historic District (named after a local Indian tribe) preserves some handsome remains of old Little Rock, including the classical Old State House and the MacArthur Museum, housed in the only surviving building of Little Rock's Arsenal (1836), in which General Douglas MacArthur was born. Fans of "Gone with the Wind" will want to visit the Old Mill in North Little Rock, where the early scenes of the film were shot.
See also: Where to Stay in Little Rock
1 Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site was the site of struggles over school desegregation in 1957. Nine African-American teenagers were entering their first day of school at a time when desegregation of the schools was just beginning. That day went down in the history of the Civil Rights movement as being a pivotal event. The U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division was brought to Little Rock to escort the nine students into the school on the next day.
Address: Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive and Park Street
2 William J Clinton Presidential Library and Museum
The Clinton Presidential Library has an archival research facility and a museum. Interactive exhibits, over 1 million photos, and gifts that Clinton received as the President are on display.
The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum has full scale replicas of the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office.
Address: 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201, United States
3 Old State House Museum
The Old State House was designed by Gideon Shryock and is one of the best examples of Doric architecture in the southern states. The building was completed in 1842 with some alterations done in 1885. On display in the museum are decorative arts, inaugural gowns of governors' wives, and historical displays relating to the politics of the state.
The Old State House served as the capitol when Arkansas became a state in 1836.
4 State Capitol
Based on the design of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, the Arkansas State Capitol is made of white marble and granite. The front entrance doors for the State Capitol are made of bronze and the cupola is covered in 24 karat gold leaf. Visitors can explore the building and the grounds on a scheduled tour.
5 River Market District
River Market is a year-round, market offering 10,000 square feet of shops, stalls and tables that sell food and unique products. The market hall is an open concept building with food stalls, coffee vendors, grocery and take out options.
6 MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History
The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is housed in the historic Tower Building, part of the Little Rock Arsenal. The museum explores the military history of the state through artifacts, photographs, documents, uniforms, weapons, and other military items. The building is one of the oldest in the region and was the birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur.
Address: 503 East Ninth Street, Little Rock, AR 72202, United States
7 Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo maintains a medium sized collection of animals, with approximately 200 different species from around the world. While this is not a huge zoo, it does maintain a good collection of large and exotic animals including, elephants,giraffes, big cats, rhinos, and bears, to name just a few.
Address: 1 Zoo Drive
8 Wildwood Park
Wildwood Park is a park for music and the performing arts, designed for indoor and outdoor performances. With 104 acres, the park also has a number of gardens and smaller facilities.
Within Wildwood Park are The Gertrude Butler Pavilion with drifts of daffodils and native flowering trees; The Butler Arboretum featuring natural woodlands and nature trails; Bruce Gardens is home to native perennials and decorative grasses and the Doris Gay Garden with its Asian influence.
Address: 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock, AR 72211-9279, United States
Where to Stay in Little Rock for Sightseeing
Many of Little Rock's top attractions are in the downtown area, including Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, the River Market District, and the Clinton Presidential Library. For sightseeing, shopping, or entertainment, the best option is to find accommodation in, or near, the city center. Below are some highly-rated hotels in convenient locations:
- Luxury Hotels: With a prime location in downtown, not far from the River Market District and The Discovery Museum, The Capital Hotel is a historic property with large rooms and suites and elegant, old-world charm. Nearby, and also within walking distance of some of the city's top sites, the Little Rock Marriott is a modern, upscale choice, featuring contemporary rooms, including some with good views over the city, and on-site restaurants.
- Mid-Range Hotels: In the trendy River Market District, not far from the Clinton Library, the Residence Inn Little Rock Downtown offers rooms that range from studios to two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and features an indoor pool and free breakfast. Another good option in the same area and offering similar room choices and amenities is Homewood Suites by Hilton. If you are looking for something quaint or even romantic, the Robinwood Bed and Breakfast has five charming rooms and is in downtown's historic Quapaw Quarter.
- Budget Hotels: In a good downtown location, La Quinta Inn and Suites offers comfortable rooms, a seasonal pool, and complimentary breakfast. Other good-value hotels can be found a little further out from downtown, including the Wingate by Wyndham, about 10 to 12 minutes west of the city center, and the more modest but comfortable Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, 15 to 20 minutes southwest of downtown.